As a corporate photographer, headshots and corporate portraits are a significant part of my business. While it may not be the most glamorous work, I love interacting with people, and the steady revenue stream helps to sustain my business. Unlike many other shots used by businesses, headshots cannot be substituted with generic images from a royalty-free image library. If organisations want quality photos of their team members, they have no choice but to hire a photographer. Nonetheless, as with many things these days, AI seems poised to disrupt this sector.
AI has been used in the post-production of photographs for quite some time to select backgrounds and remove blemishes etc. Some headshot photographers already use AI software to smooth out skin, apply makeup, enhance smiles, and relight images, similar to the filters on various mobile apps. That’s never been my preference because I believe that photography should maintain a level of authenticity. If the headshots are well-lit and well-posed in the first place, there shouldn’t be any need for such ‘enhancements’.
AI disrupting photography
Fashion brands like Levi’s are turning to custom AI-generated models to enhance size, skin tone, and age representation in their marketing campaigns. Collaborating with digital studios such as LaLaLand.ai, these brands use AI-generated models alongside human models to offer a more diverse and inclusive shopping experience for consumers.
We’ve likely all seen examples of AI-created deepfake images, which use advanced algorithms to manipulate existing photos or videos, making them appear like a different person is doing or saying something they never did. While deepfake technology can be used creatively for entertainment purposes, it also has the potential to cause harm, as it can be misused to spread misinformation or create false impressions of individuals.
The use of AI technology in creating corporate headshots offers various benefits and potential applications. It provides businesses with a cost-effective and time-saving solution for generating professional images of their employees. By leveraging AI-generated models and image manipulation techniques, organisations can create uniform, polished headshots that reflect their brand identity and maintain a consistent look across the team.
One of the main advantages of using AI for corporate headshots is the ability to customise the images to suit the company’s branding and style guidelines. AI-driven software can adjust elements such as lighting, background, and colour schemes to create a cohesive set of headshots that align with the organisation’s visual identity.
AI-generated headshots can also be a practical solution for remote employees or businesses with a geographically distributed workforce. In such cases, coordinating traditional photoshoots can be logistically challenging and expensive. With AI technology, employees can submit their photographs, which can then be edited and processed to produce high-quality corporate headshots without needing an in-person photoshoot.
Putting AI to the test
With this in mind, I decided to give HeadshotPro a try to understand how this innovative AI-driven solution could disrupt my business. According to HeadshotPro’s website, the company can generate over 120 headshots for a customer for prices starting at USD 29. Each AI photoshoot includes three unique locations as backdrops for the portraits, and HeadshotPro offers a fast turnaround of two hours. They claim to provide professional headshots for ten times less than a physical photoshoot. HeadShotPro employs advanced AI algorithms to generate professional-looking headshots based on approximately 20 selfies you upload.
I have to say; the results are unsettling in a couple of ways. Although my AI headshots looked somewhat uncanny, given the speed at which AI is advancing, the results will soon be indistinguishable from real photographs. It’s evident that this technology could prove to be a highly disruptive force in the corporate photography landscape. As AI-generated headshots become more convincing and widely adopted, the traditional corporate headshot photography market will undoubtedly face significant challenges. Is corporate photography destined to face the same fate as other creative industries like copywriting and design, with AI threatening its very existence?
Social media users have already started to share their AI-generated headshots with enthusiasm. Tech entrepreneur Damon Chen happily tweeted, “Just tried http://headshotpro.com ? Looks like the job of a photographer might become a thing of the past soon!”
As a corporate photographer, it’s hard not to feel very uneasy about these developments. While AI-generated headshots may not completely replace the need for professional photographers in the short term, the rapid advancement of AI technology should be a wake-up call for those of us in the industry.
Ultimately, my goal is to capture authentic moments and genuine emotions, something AI may not be able to replicate entirely. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my clients will continue to appreciate the human touch: that and my ‘scintillating’ rapport.
About the author
Gavin Jowitt is an accomplished corporate communications and branding professional with over 30 years of experience as a creative director and photographer. Awarded Australian Commercial Photographer of the Year in 2019, Gavin has built a reputation for delivering high-quality photography that enhances stakeholder communication. Gavin works with a wide array of public and private sector clients, guiding them in creating versatile photography libraries while offering extensive corporate, industrial, and commercial photography services throughout Australia.